LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — In an interview with “The Today Show” that aired Thursday morning, National Museum of African American History & Culture Director Lonnie Birch listed some of the exciting artifacts that have been obtained by the museum so far, and said the structure of the first two floors will soon be visible.

For several months, the National Mall addition has looked more like a hole in the ground than the impressive five-floor structure it will eventually grow into.

It is set to open in 2015 or early 2016, more than a decade after being established by law in 2003 and almost three decades after the first lawmakers passionate about making the vision a reality first began pushing for a museum in the late 80s.

A rendering of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Credit: Smithsonian Institution)

A rendering of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as it will look once completed. (Credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Congress pledged to provide half of the institution’s $500 million cost. The Smithsonian has been working to raise the remaining funds from private sources. Oprah Winfrey, who donated $13 million to the cause, is among the largest donors.

Objects already secured for exhibit include Harriet Tubman’s hymn book, Michael Jackson’s fedora, a plane flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, the dress Rosa Parks sat stitching in the bus where she made history, Chuck Berry’s Cadillac, Muhammad Ali’s headgear and Louis Armstrong’s trumpet.

In November, a segregated Southern Railway train car made by the Pullman Company in 1922 and a prison tower from Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, were lowered into the structure via crane.


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